Monday, on his last day as the Indian ambassador to the United States, K. Shankar Bajpai stood in a receiving line at his own farewell reception at his Macomb Street residence. His personal art collection had already been removed from the walls and packed into crates, and much of the other packing was completed. Then, late in the evening, after all the important guests from the State Department, representatives of the diplomatic corps, journalists and other friends had gone, he received a telephone call from Foreign Secretary A. P. Venkateswaran in New Delhi asking Bajpai to extend his tour of duty here for "the time being."
Bajpai, a 1944 graduate of St. Albans School who lived in the same house when his father represented the Indian government here, on Monday had turned 58, the mandatory retirement age in the Indian civil service. He has been ambassador to three of Indian's most important postings -- Peking, Washington and Islamabad, Pakistan -- and had planned to leave Washington by the end of the week and the United States by the middle of April. His replacement had not been named. Bajpai was unavailable for comment yesterday; he had traveled to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to visit with former Indian prime minister Charan Singh, who is being treated there.
Among the guests at the unnecessary farewell reception were Attorney General Edwin Meese, Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige, Chief of Protocol Selwa Roosevelt, former secretary of defense Robert McNamara, former Democratic National Committee chairman Robert Strauss, former White House deputy chief of staff Michael Deaver, FBI Director William Webster, Swedish Ambassador Wilhelm Wachtmeister, former national security affairs adviser Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft and former senator Charles Percy.
The influence business may be under scrutiny but the firms continue to grow and grow. Mary Pettus, well known in certain circles as an "events expert" who had among her clients the big-money Republican "Eagles," yesterday joined Gray & Co. as still another senior vice president. She will focus on the Washington market and handle special projects. Pettus said her own company will go out of business by the end of the month. Pettus has known how to keep White House connections through well-connected wives. During the Carter administration she employed Nancy Moore, wife of Frank Moore, head of Carter's congressional liaison office, and until the first of this year Carolyn Deaver, wife of PR powermeister Michael Deaver, worked in her office . . .
In case no one noticed, that Easter Bunny at the White House Easter Egg Roll was really Ursula Meese . . .
On Easter Sunday, the Meeses were at a private dinner in the presidential suite of the Grand Hotel watching master magician Doug Henning perform some of the same illusions he would enact the following day at the Easter Egg Roll . . . In a private room in another part of the hotel, former White House aide Joseph Canzeri and his wife Tricia were hosting a dinner party for a group of friends who were alone on the holiday . . .
Treasurer of the United States Katherine Davalos Ortega, whose autograph is on our money, was the first customer at the first lady's hairdresser Robin Weir's new salon in the Westin Hotel. She put a second signature on the first dollar spent there . . .
Three members of the Kennedy family were aboard a Boston-bound Delta Air Lines jumbo jet that rolled off the runway after an aborted takeoff Monday in West Palm Beach. Ted Kennedy Jr., his cousin Chris Lawford and Lawford's wife Jeanne all declined to comment. None of the 302 passengers on board was injured . . .
The Chicago Tribune has won this year's Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards Grand Prize for the best overall coverage of problems of the disadvantaged. Its winning entry is "The American Milestone," a 36-part series published in the final three months of 1985. The series also won first prize in the print category. The award will be presented May 19 at Hickory Hill, the late senator's McLean home. Other first prizes went to WSMV in Nashville for a seven-part series, "Reflections in Black and White"; National Public Radio for "A State of Emergency"; photographer Tom Garlish of The Philadelphia Inquirer for "How They Survive"; and Bill Day of the Detroit Free Press for the editorial cartoon category . . .
It may be the best subscription idea Mother Jones magazine has ever had. If you call for a subscription over the next seven days, you will receive a Ronald Reagan doormat -- emblazoned with the president's face -- so, as the ad reads, "you'll never be able to wipe your feet again without chuckling . . . "